Braver Than We Are
I am a huge Meat Loaf fan. Bat Out Of Hell is not just a seminal album from the 70s, it is one of my favorites of all time. The first rock concert I attended was Meatloaf in 1978 for the “Bat” tour. So you can bet when Meat Loaf and Bat Out Of Hell songwriter Jim Steinman reunited in 1993 for the “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That”) hit for Bat Out Of Hell II, Back Into Hell, I felt there might be hope again for rock and roll in the face of grunge. To say I have been following Meat’s career and anxious for anything he does with Steinman is an understatement. I just wish I could say Mr. Loaf was up for Steinman’s songs on the duo’s 2016 collaboration, Braver Than We Are.
A sprawling Kurt Weill-like “Who Needs The Young” opens the record and immediately things get cringe-worthy as we realize Loaf just doesn’t have the pipes for this sweeping, weird track anymore. Meat Loaf isn’t even present (though he’s trying hard) duetting with either his former onstage female foil Karla DeVito or on-record “dashboard” co-conspirator Ellen Foley on the over-the-top — even by Steinman’s standards — “Going All the Way Is Just The Start (A Song In 6 Movements).” A cool title does not a good song make though.
Stacy Michelle tries to help out on the ballads “Speaking In Tongues” and the mid-tempo tear-jerker “Loving You’s A Dirty Job (But Somebody’s Gotta Do It).” The latter is probably the best tune on the record. “Souvenirs” offers up some horns, taking us away from the usually arpeggio piano and vocal duets. The brass and Meat’s shakiness actually works on this soul-blues n umber. It even includes a cool lyric: “You’ve been cold to me for so long, I’m crying icicles instead of tears.” The sax solo is also strong.
There’s Cian Coey repeating “turn around bight eyes” to Loaf, who is singing on the superbly drummed and wailing guitar of “Skull Of Your Country.” The piano-led rocker “Train of Love” ends the record, but even its infectious and catchy chorus doesn’t cut it. I guess I can consider myself brave enough to have gotten through Braver Than We Are, but I don’t have the courage to endure a second listen.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.